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State of Fear [Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

Michael Crichton , John Chancer
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 2005
The "Crichton effect" -- this term has come to signify the distinctive blend of fear, fantasy, and authentic cutting-edge science driving the blockbuster novels of Michael Crichton. Hailed as "the father of the techno-thriller", Crichton boasts an impressive history of global bestsellers -- from The Andromeda Strain to Jurassic Park to Prey -- that explore the frightening possibilities of breakthrough research led astray by abuse and corruption. Drawing on his past as a Harvard Medical School student and his ongoing study of the world of technology, Crichton's gripping fiction is grounded in scientific fact culled from the latest academic journals.

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Amazon Exclusive Content

A Michael Crichton Timeline
Amazon.com reveals a few facts about the "father of the techno-thriller."

1942: John Michael Crichton is born in Chicago, Illinois, on Oct. 23.

1960: Crichton graduates from Roslyn High School on Long Island, New York, with high marks and a reputation as a star basketball player. He decides to attend Harvard University to study English. During his studies, he rankles under his writing professors’ criticism. As an act of rebellion, Crichton submits an essay by George Orwell as his own. The professor doesn’t catch the plagiarism and gives Orwell a B-. This experience convinces Crichton to change his field of study to anthropology.

1964: Crichton graduates summa cum laude from Harvard University in anthropology. After studying further as a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University and receiving the Henry Russell Shaw Travelling Fellowship, which allowed him to travel in Europe and North Africa, Crichton begins coursework at the Harvard School of Medicine. To help fund his medical endeavors, he writes spy thrillers under several pen names. One of these works, A Case of Need, wins the 1968 Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award.

1969: Crichton graduates from Harvard Medical school and is accepted as a post-doctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Science in La Jolla, Calif. However, his career in medicine is waylaid by the publication of the first novel under his own name, The Andromeda Strain. The novel, about an apocalyptic plague, climbs high on bestseller lists and is later made into a popular film. Crichton said of his decision to pursue writing full time: “To quit medicine to become a writer struck most people like quitting the Supreme Court to become a bail bondsman.”

1972: Crichton's second novel under his own name The Terminal Man, is published. Also, two of Crichton's previous works under his pen names, Dealing and A Case of Need are made into movies. After watching the filming, Crichton decides to try his hand at directing. He will eventually direct seven films including the 1973 science-fiction hit Westworld, which was the first film ever to use computer-generated effects.

1980: Crichton draws on his anthropology background and fascination with new technology to create Congo, a best-selling novel about a search for industrial diamonds and a new race of gorillas. The novel, patterned after the adventure writings of H. Ryder Haggard, updates the genre with the inclusion of high-tech gadgets that, although may seem quaint 20 years later, serve to set Crichton's work apart and he begins to cement his reputation as “the father of the techno-thriller.”

1990: After the 1980s, which saw the publication of the underwater adventure Sphere (1987) and an invitation to become a visiting writer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1988), Crichton begins the new decade with a bang via the publication of his most popular novel, Jurassic Park. The book is a powerful example of Crichton's use of science and technology as the bedrock for his work. Heady discussion of genetic engineering, chaos theory, and paleontology run throughout the tightly-wound thriller that strands a crew of scientists on an island populated by cloned dinosaurs run amok. The novel inspires the 1993 Steven Spielberg film, and together book and film will re-ignite the world’s fascination with dinosaurs.

1995: Crichton resurrects an idea from his medical school days to create the Emmy-Award Winning television series ER. In this year, ER won eight Emmys and Crichton received an award from the Producers Guild of America in the category of outstanding multi-episodic series. Set in an insanely busy an often dangerous Chicago emergency room, the fast-paced drama is defined by Crichton's now trademark use of technical expertise and insider jargon. The year also saw the publication of The Lost World returning readers to the dinosaur-infested island.

2000: In recognition for Crichton's contribution in popularizing paleontology, a dinosaur discovered in southern China is named after him. "Crichton's ankylosaur" is a small, armored plant-eating dinosaur that dates to the early Jurassic Period, about 180 million years ago. "For a person like me, this is much better than an Academy Award," Crichton said of the honor.

2005: Crichton’s newest thriller State of Fear is published.




Amazon.com's Significant Seven

Michael Crichton kindly agreed to take the life quiz we like to give to all our authors: the Amazon.com Significant Seven.

Q: What book has had the most significant impact on your life?

A: Prisoners of Childhood by Alice Miller

Q: You are stranded on a desert island with only one book, one CD, and one DVD--what are they?

A: Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (Witter Bynner version)

Symphony #2 in D Major by Johannes Brahms (Georg Solti)

Ikiru by Akira Kurosawa

Q: What is the worst lie you've ever told?

A: Surely you're joking.

Q: Describe the perfect writing environment.

A: Small room. Shades down. No daylight. No disturbances. Macintosh with a big screen. Plenty of coffee. Quiet.

Q: If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?

A: I don't want an epitaph. If forced, I would say "Why Are You Here? Go Live Your Life."

Q: Who is the one person living or dead that you would like to have dinner with?

A: Benjamin Franklin

Q: If you could have one superpower what would it be?

A: Invisibility

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

For his latest foray, Crichton alters his usual formula--three parts thrills and spills to one part hard science--to a less appetizing concoction that is half anti-global warming screed and half adventure yarn. This adds a mission impossible element to Wilson's narration: how to make pages of research interesting enough to hold the listener's attention until hero and heroine face their next peril. Unfortunately, Wilson approaches the statistical information like a newscaster communicating via Teleprompter. This earns him an A-plus for elocution and timbre, but a more average grade when it comes to dramatic interpretation. Consequently, the scientific material that Crichton spent three years researching seems even more copious in audio format than in print. And it's certainly much harder to flip past. Wilson is more successful in handling conversational passages, employing accents and adding subtle touches to various voices--a cynical tone for the hero, who's a mildly hedonistic corporate lawyer, and an edgier, less patient attitude for the beautiful, ready-for-anything heroine. As they hot-foot it around the globe, assisting an Indiana Jones-like MIT professor in thwarting evils perpetrated by a mass-murdering environmentalist, Wilson stirs up a little suspense by speaking faster and more energetically. But the book's abundance of statistics would slow any narrator's momentum, and Wilson is no exception.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book reminded me very much of Moby Dick with its heavy emphasis on both an adventure story and sharing detailed information. Those who prefer one aspect or the other will probably find themselves flipping quickly through the pages that emphasize the other aspect.

Popular opinions are almost always wrong. That's the theme of this book. The point is made in the context of describing how global warming, as perceived by the public and media, is different from what scientists are describing. Dr. Crichton argues through his story that we can waste a lot of time and resources on popular delusions, and we need to get our facts right. His appendix I on the dangers of politicized science is something everyone should read. The eugenics example is a chilling one.

The adventure story itself is a Frederick Forsyth/Clive Cussler-type thriller written from the perspective of a young lawyer who tags along with a James Bond-like character who single-handedly saves the day along with his trusty, almost silent, sidekick. They are about as good a source for scintillating conversation as the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Instead of greedy multinationals or rich megalomaniacs being at fault, this story looks at how lawyers and rabid environmentalists can get carried away.

In typical Michael Crichton fashion, the story develops around little-known scientific facts about how humans can influence the environment. So if you wanted to know more about how giant ice bergs, tsunamis and flash floods can be created, this is your book. At the same time, there are nice subplots around how to track terrorists via the Internet and an obscure way to assassinate people.

I found myself drawn to both the adventure story and the global warming information.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Crichton book April 10 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Author Michael Crichton has made his mark dealing with the `what-if' scenarios of science. State of Fear is different.

This is a book about political science, and the politicization of science. While the specific issue is climate change, the more general one is the power of media in shaping public opinion. Interestingly, the book shows that both the left and right manipulate media to sway public opinion. Media are portrayed as unwitting dupes of interest groups, politicians, and public relations specialists, because of mindless parroting of press releases from seemingly reputable organizations and experts.

Through his protagonist, Crichton challenges the conventional media wisdom of human influence on climate change. While he may or may not agree with the position of any of the book's characters, Crichton cautions us all to read, watch and listen with a critical mind, because politicized science is dangerous.

Indeed, Crichton , in a speech at California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, January 17, 2003, likened the current climate change juggernaut as pseudo science, similar to the eugenics movement, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence SETI, and a nuclear winter.

Highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
First off, this book is typical Crichton, a fun thriller, with good characters and great pacing. It seems most of reviewers of this book agree on that. There is a controversy concerning the science and Mr. Crichton's stance on the subject of global warming. I am not sure myself on this issue, but the author does give the reader plenty to think about. For me personally I see both sides, how can man not be having an effect on the enviornment including weather? but how can we even pretend to know what this effect will be? We can't even predict next weeks weather. I also know that over the last 500,000 thousand years or so the earth has had cyclical periods of warmer and colder weather (ever hear of the ice age? in fact some theories suggest we are still in the ice age just a warmer interglacial period). How are we to be able to predict just what the effect of man will be? when I was a kid a remember the fear was that the earth was heading into the next ice age? I am not saying that we shouldn't study the forces that effect climate, but I think a person has to try and think logically about all this and try and learn from all sources. Enjoy this book, and open your mind to the issues. I also recomend "A TOURIST IN THE YUCATAN" cool arceological thriller!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What happened? Nov. 27 2005
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am a huge fan of Michael Crichton and own and love every single one of his books. But this book fell flat for me. I think character development is critical to any book. Most of the main characters were entirely two-dimensional and therefore no empathy could be created. I think the author jumped on a topical bandwagon and coupled it with a fantastical and literally unbelievable plot line. Moreover, although Mr Crichton is always thorough in his research, I think it was a little over the top. At times, it was more like reading a university paper with all the endless footnotes for his scientific references. A huge disappointment.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking June 26 2005
By Carl
Format:Hardcover
I have been a Michael Crichton fan for years. He is a writer whose stories should be taken seriously. They are very insightful. In this fascinating page turner, the author makes his readers to learn interesting things about their world, in a the subject matter whose influence nobody can avoid.
"State of Fear" revolves around environmental extremists with an agenda that threatens to destabilize the status quo and a small group dedicated to unravel a plot. The characters are succinctly drawn to give the story the credibility that it deserves. Through the person of the young protagonist, Peter Evans, Crichton presented this story of global warming perfectly.
The discussions about global warming and the pitfalls of media-geared scientific investigations are succinctly exposed. Crichton's case is strong. This is a thriller that is steeped in reason with a message for the environment. I couldn't help but recall the nature of the anxiety it generated to those from TRIPLE AGENT DOUBLE CROSS,GOD'S POLITICS, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE And Crichton concludes it with his by declaring his position and a footnote to links to this issue. The book has a lot of integrity.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great work of Crichton between novel and essay
Only years after the death of Crichton I finally discovered his great value as a writer and it happened with this book, bought almost casually without knowing exactly what it was... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Anakina
4.0 out of 5 stars Neat novel about eco-terrorism...
Yes, it comes across as a little preachy but, you've got to admire the amount of research and documentation that the author completed to write this story. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Pat the cat
1.0 out of 5 stars Dispense with reading the book, go straight to Author's message at...
Having heard about the contrarian views regarding climate change espoused in this book, I hoped to find an interesting dialogue in the form of a novel. What a disappointment! Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2011 by sedgewick
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic. Genious. Entertaining
Anyone with the slightest interest in policy, environment or the natural sciences will be glued to this book. Read more
Published on June 25 2008 by Andrea Szenasi
3.0 out of 5 stars More of a lesson on global warming
I have read almost every book by Michael Crichton and with every new release I find the book reads less like a thrilling novel and more like an essay on the authors beliefs and... Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2007 by Neil Lane
5.0 out of 5 stars I was convinced
Of all the Crichton books, this one had one of the most serious points to make about our immediate surroundings. Read more
Published on Sept. 23 2007 by Vick
2.0 out of 5 stars A fizzled flare
Mickey Crichton's fought a long war with science. First, he didn't want objects sent into space to be retrieved. Read more
Published on May 15 2007 by Stephen A. Haines
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work of fiction
I thoroughly enjoyed State of Fear. It's always refreshing to read a point of view that doesn't sheepishly follow the mainstream "Chicken Littles" with their predictions of... Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2007 by S. Tofflemire
2.0 out of 5 stars Just not up to Par!
Over the years Michael Chrichton has become more technical in his writing and for me it seems to just not work. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2007 by Kris Hollywood
3.0 out of 5 stars This Is Fiction??? How Come There Are Footnotes On Every Page
First of all I would like to say that this review is actually two and a half stars not three. Second thing I would like to mention is that there is not actually a footnote on every... Read more
Published on Nov. 19 2006 by Erico
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